Just Give Me Jesus
I’ll admit to being on that certain social networking site called Facebook. And I’ll even go further to admit that I joined a recent craze on Facebook—the “twenty-five things” craze. It was as simple as it sounds; all it required was posting twenty-five things about yourself. The craze spread like wildfire and soon so many of my friends were posting that I was hard-pressed to keep up. But I persevered, using random spare moments to pull out my phone, log on to Facebook, and catch up on my reading. Most were humorous, some revealed little known facts—and then there was Jessie’s.
Jessie and I were friends in college and haven’t kept up since except via Facebook. Jessie was always interesting, and I was excited to read her twenty-five. I was almost halfway down when number twelve stopped me in my tracks. It read, “Jessie is over impression management. Just give me Jesus.”
Jessie’s words hit a little close to home. They pointed a finger at the same area in my life. It’s the same area that you probably find in your life. We are all guilty of trying to manage our impression on others or on the world. We want to be acceptable, play the right part, stand out in just the right way, but then again not too much.
Take, for example, me. I always have a hard time picking out a new pair of eyeglasses. I can only see clearly for about six inches in front of my face without my glasses on, so you can imagine what the scene looks like in the store. I scan the racks, pick out a possibility, and pull off my current pair. Then I put the new pair on, shove my face into the mirror, and squint at the blurry image. After a couple of repeats of this process I usually grow frustrated and seek out a salesman for help. They, of course, ask what exactly I’m looking for. The last time I was asked, I said that I wanted the glasses to make me look smart.
Why? Because smarts and knowledge are valued in my field of work. Maybe it is high fashion that is valued in your particular circle of friends. Or maybe it’s not. Regardless, we all feel some pressure to conform, to manage the impression others have of us. Again, why? There are two reasons behind our natural desire to appear acceptable in the eyes of others.
The first is the root of many problems. It is selfishness, which is probably more aptly described as self-centeredness. We are egotistical creatures, with a deep, driving desire to make everything about us. We may start our day off with a prayer that gives the day to Jesus, but unless we constantly put ourselves back on track, the day often becomes about us. My needs, my wants, my schedule, and my list of priorities continue on. How I’m viewed by others is often right at the top of the list. It’s an inborn desire; it’s why the little child who is fancifully playing and singing when alone in her room will grow shy and quiet when someone walks in. We are all possessed with fear of what others think of us and we try to manage that impression.
But impression management can also be a by-product of the push for tolerance. This is often the peer pressure that we feel later in life, as the factors that influence us grow beyond our neighborhood friends and family. The message of tolerance is carefully and craftily woven into the words of the media, the music on the radio. You hear it in the comments of your friends at school. It is forcefully shouted in the impassioned speeches of world leaders and pushed for in the mission statements of liberal social organizations. Often it is argued that it is the only road to world peace. For example, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, “We need to promote greater tolerance and understanding… Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic, or cultural lines.” And so we become pressured into at least having an image of tolerance. We do so by managing the impression others have of us. We want to be liked, we try to be liked, and sometimes to do so we remain silent when our values and beliefs are compromised. We become impression managers.
Preach the Truth
The worst side effect of impression management is that we lose the truth. We become so concerned with the impression we make on others that we are afraid to offend and afraid to preach a gospel that requires sacrifice. We no longer preach the truth because it is too uncomfortable to tell someone there is only one way to Jesus. We lose our standards because we worry what others think and that they won’t be willing to make lifestyle changes.
Impression management can become a slippery slope to hell. Fight it. Get over it. Preach the truth. Live the life. Take this whole world, but give me Jesus.
Read II Corinthians 4 and think about impression management. It begins in verse one and two by saying, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (NKJV).There was no sugar-coating the truth or trying to make it more acceptable for the apostle Paul.
Verses three and four again ring true: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (NKJV). If the gospel was not evident, it was not because it wasn’t proclaimed, but rather because Satan blinded their minds. Impression management wasn’t a factor.
Verse ten has something to say about what our impression should be on the world: “Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (NKJV). Just give me Jesus. Let Jesus be the only impression the world has of you.
Verses thirteen and fourteen: “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.” Forget impressions. Believe the truth, speak the truth. Preach the truth, preach the truth.
And finally we cannot forget the eternal importance of this. Verse seventeen and eighteen say, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (NKJV). Your impression is so temporary. Truth is eternal. Let Jesus be the lasting impression.
Every summer as far back as I can remember my family has spent at least a few days inside the tabernacle on the Texas campgrounds. There, above the platform and choir loft is neon lighting shaped into two words. Before we realized I needed eye glasses, I could never make out the words. I just assumed that the place was so big and the platform was so far away that I wasn’t supposed to able to read the words. I remember that first time back in the tabernacle with my first pair of glasses. I could finally make out the words. They read, “Simply Jesus.”
That’s all we need. Simply Jesus. Get over impression management. Choose truth. Just give me Jesus.